What did you get on your last test? Was it good or bad? Some people refuse to answer. As someone who is surrounded by an extremely competitive academic environment, I’m familiar with the thought process of people who hide their scores from others. And I completely understand. After all, it’s embarrassing when you find out all your friends got higher scores than you; it becomes awkward when people find out that you got higher scores than everyone else. People should not be judged when disclosing their scores to their liking as long as it doesn’t affect their ability to improve.
We hide our scores to preserve our image around others. When you’re constantly pressured by parents, teachers and classmates to perform well in school, the grades we earn on tests sometimes become our greatest insecurities. People typically despise being vulnerable, and putting a weakness (or a bad test score, in this case) on display makes them uncomfortable as they feel judged by their peers. Similarly, students ask for others’ scores to either validate or compare themselves. Scores have become a numerical representation of success, despite how much we stress not simplifying our achievements. And when you begin to compare yourself with others, it only increases that pressure to do well. As a result, some people also keep their higher scores to themselves out of concern for their peers who have not done as well. Or they may hide scores to avoid gaining a reputation of “trying too hard” or being arrogant. Sometimes, they simply don’t think it’s necessary to share their scores.
But does this mean hiding test scores is a bad thing? Not necessarily. When grades become such an important source of validation, it’s probably even better to keep your scores to yourself. However, hiding scores because of embarrassment or shame should not be encouraged as it only fosters the overemphasis of grades. Comparison is an unhealthy way of improving oneself, but whether hiding scores would be detrimental is really dependent on the person. Personally, I try not to compare myself with others and will always tell people my scores should they ask. Either way, your score should hold no relevance to others who ask out of curiosity and need for comparison regardless of the consequences.
As long as the people who hide their low scores are willing to make an effort to improve themselves, I don’t believe it’s a huge issue. While I’m not comparing, when I hear others’ test scores, I’m motivated to work harder and achieve higher than if I were to keep things to myself. I am also someone who thrives in a social and competitive environment. Others, such as those who hide their higher scores, may prefer to work quietly and prove to be more productive when they are focused on themselves. Everyone has a unique method of improvement and growth, and hiding test scores may be a personal choice some find more beneficial to themselves and to others. In the end, bad score or not, moral or not, it’s the individual’s choice to reveal what they decide.
By Angela Cao, Arts editor
Photo by Isabella Leung